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Courtesy of the University of Oklahoma Institute for Quality Communities
November 28, 2013 11:39 AM   Subscribe

The U.S. Cities Where the Fewest Commuters Get to Work By Car
posted by Blazecock Pileon (41 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Seattle doing pretty well, despite itself.

That is some awful chart design.
posted by Artw at 11:44 AM on November 28, 2013 [6 favorites]


For those of you having trouble deciphering the jumble of colors that is that graph, here it is in a slightly easier-to-interpret format.
posted by phunniemee at 11:49 AM on November 28, 2013 [35 favorites]


I'm surprised Miami is ranked that high. So. Fla. is definitely an everyone-in-their-own-car kind of place.
posted by oddman at 11:58 AM on November 28, 2013


Interesting data, really too bad the presentation makes it nigh-incomprehensible.
posted by zeypher at 12:04 PM on November 28, 2013


The U.S. Cities Where the Fewest Largest Percentage of Commuters Get to Work By Anything but Car

Just sayin'. There are probably more car commuters in NYC than people, commuters or otherwise, in OKC. I'd point to numbers to back that up, but these graphs don't provide them.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:09 PM on November 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Make sure you pay attention to the scales of those charts. The northeast one goes to 60 but the southeast only goes to 16.
posted by octothorpe at 12:13 PM on November 28, 2013


So I'm supposed to go into photoshop, get hexadecimal values for each color in the key, write them down, then get the corresponding hex values in the graph, and correlate them in Excel? IT'S SO EASY. Actually you have to click the "Nice visualizations" link to get to the original article which lets you mouse over a bar to correlate it with its city.

Also none of these mention Chicago so. I don't see how it tells you anything about what non-car commutes in the US if you leave out a huge chunk of data.
posted by bleep at 12:22 PM on November 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also the West just doesn't get a chart at all?
posted by dame at 12:23 PM on November 28, 2013


Huh, 67% of people in NYC commute on something that isn't a car.

And they all take the 5:45 B82 bus.
posted by griphus at 12:25 PM on November 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


Who the hell are the 33% of people in NYC who drive to work?
posted by MuffinMan at 12:53 PM on November 28, 2013


I'm guessing that includes the many people who take cabs or a car service every single day.
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:55 PM on November 28, 2013


not everyone drives to work in Manhattan in NYC.
posted by djseafood at 12:56 PM on November 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


That could be. But also, a lot of them are gonna be people who live and work outside the central parts of the city. If you're in Staten Island or the eastern part of Queens or whatever, and you're not commuting downtown every day, then commuting in your own car starts to look reasonable.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 12:58 PM on November 28, 2013


Or, yeah, what djseafood said.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 12:58 PM on November 28, 2013


and as a Minneapolite I ride a bike more often than I drive but I still drive to work sometimes, I dunno how they factor that in.
posted by djseafood at 1:00 PM on November 28, 2013


Apparently these charts were created with infogr.am, which looks like quite a nice tool actually. Nothing to prevent misuse, however.
posted by Kabanos at 1:06 PM on November 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Living near DC's Red Line, I've got to question how many of those 58% actually made it to work. WMATA seems to evolved into a maintenance department that begrudgingly operates a transit service on occasion.
posted by schmod at 1:06 PM on November 28, 2013 [10 favorites]


Who the hell are the 33% of people in NYC who drive to work?

"No one in New York drove; there was too much traffic."
posted by Sys Rq at 1:21 PM on November 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pittsburgh beats out Baltimore? Really?
posted by Slackermagee at 1:27 PM on November 28, 2013


If this is supposed to be about means of travel that are better/worse for the environment, then NYC should have a separate category for people who commute (daily!) by helicopter.
posted by ceribus peribus at 1:32 PM on November 28, 2013


I knew that DC would be fairly high up, but I was surprised they are so comparative close to NYC. But as others have pointed out, I'm thinking of Manhattan, where if you commute by car you are either very rich or nuts. There's no doubt a fair number of car commuters in the outer boroughs, thus the 67 percent rather than 90 percent.
posted by tavella at 1:40 PM on November 28, 2013


So I'm supposed to go into photoshop, get hexadecimal values for each color in the key, write them down, then get the corresponding hex values in the graph, and correlate them in Excel? IT'S SO EASY.

The cities are laid out under the graph in rank order, so unless you're trying to glean the specific percentage for each city from the graph it's actually not that hard to make usable sense of it. I was surprised how high LA ranked.
posted by yoink at 1:42 PM on November 28, 2013


Chicago, represent! Biking here has gotten a lot easier and more popular since I started biking four years ago. Now, if they could just stop shutting down the bike lanes for frivolous, unnecessary construction projects.
posted by deathpanels at 1:47 PM on November 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hopefully this means that Pittsburgh will be higher on this list in a decade:
Pittsburgh Mayor-elect Bill Peduto has big ideas for remaking the city's transportation network and hopes commuters will soon have increased access to bike lanes, express bus service, trains and eventually an expanded light rail network.
posted by octothorpe at 2:07 PM on November 28, 2013


I see the United States still stops at the Mississippi River.

Damned eastern media establishment.
posted by vorpal bunny at 3:03 PM on November 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Interesting that the part of the country with the best weather year-round has the lowest amount of walking/biking to work, when theoretically it should be the easiest to do so.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 3:06 PM on November 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Who the hell are the 33% of people in NYC who drive to work?

There's no doubt a fair number of car commuters in the outer boroughs, thus the 67 percent rather than 90 percent.

Anecdata from 25 years ago: My uncle (originally from Chicago) lived in East Windsor out on the Turnpike and commuted by car to an automotive engineering job (I forget which company, as over the years he worked for diverse names including Ford, Chrysler, and Cummins) in, ISTR, College Point on the north shore of Long Island. I cannot imagine a more deadly commute (even using the Verrazano). But it suited him -- even though to go out to eat was yet another hike.
posted by dhartung at 3:08 PM on November 28, 2013


Among downtown work forces specifically, 56% of Calgary employees use transit to get to work- a rate exceeded only by NYC in North America. But you'll still see my city derided by Canadians for its "car dependence" and be compared to Dallas, which has not even one-tenth the transit use proportionally that Calgary has.

And yes Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver (and Ottawa) all have higher overall transit usage than does Calgary (and all these exceed every single American MSA except for metro NYC), but for downtown employment specifically- the highest employment node in Calgary by far, very unlike Montreal for example- we're #1 in Canada and #2 in North America.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 3:47 PM on November 28, 2013


I'd love to see similar stats for non-American cities as a comparator.
posted by modernnomad at 5:36 PM on November 28, 2013


I honestly thought that Portland would have ranked a bit higher than ninth; especially when i've seen what happens on the hawthorne bridge's bike lanes around 5:00pm everyday.

I know not everyone bikes, but I also thought way more people actually commuted by bus.

But still, Yay transit!
posted by furnace.heart at 6:56 PM on November 28, 2013


I was surprised about Portland, too.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:06 PM on November 28, 2013


Would be neat to see these overlaid with charts comparing population density.
posted by MoonOrb at 7:11 PM on November 28, 2013


god dammit that first scree plot is a fucking nightmare who the fuck thought that was a good idea i'm not even colorblind but suddenly all i can see is red fuck you fuck you grrrrrrrr...
posted by Scientist at 7:54 PM on November 28, 2013


Hmmm. OKC wins/loses on the commuters scale in this study...and I seem to recall another study that said they were at the top in fast food per capita...and really high on the obesity scale....

Correlation?
posted by CrowGoat at 9:21 PM on November 28, 2013


Also none of these mention Chicago so. I don't see how it tells you anything about what non-car commutes in the US if you leave out a huge chunk of data.

It's the sixth city in the first graph? And the first city in the Midwest graph?
posted by kmz at 9:46 PM on November 28, 2013


In the comments, people noted that these statistics are for cities -- defined by their political boundaries -- and not metropolitan areas. There will, therefore, be some distortions as some cities have annexed more of their immediate or far-flung suburbs than others. Boston proper, in particular, is particularly small compared to its greater metropolitan area. Toronto (not considered in this study, but I'm guessing there are analogous US cities) has annexed its close suburbs. In any case, if you include the suburbs, the proportion of non-car trips becomes much smaller. Cities whose boundaries include suburban areas will look somewhat worse by comparison.

Also, these statistics are for proportion of trips taken to and from place of employment, and not for trips for shopping, groceries, entertainment, cultural outings, churches and so on. The impact of this narrow focus will also change the picture compared to counting all trips in a city. Some cities are better geared towards easily accomplishing all travel for all purposes -- generally these will be older, denser cities, mostly on the Eastern side of the continent.

To consider Ethnomethodologist's frankly puzzling insinuation that Calgary is less car-centric than Montreal, for instance: Calgary transit is a comparatively attractive network for peak-hour travel to and from the central business district. It is much less attractive for trips that don't have the CBD as a destination or point of origin. The CBD also has few residents, and very little draw (for shopping, or entertainment) outside business hours. It is eerily desolate after 5:30pm and on weekends. Not surprisingly, the transit infrastructure -- which does one thing reasonably well -- becomes much much less attractive relative to other modes outside peak commuting hours and outside that one purpose. It is, in fact, shamefully difficult to live without a car (or car transport, using car shares or cabs) in this city. Similar stories are repeated for many North American cities whose growth occurred largely post WWII and where the enthusiastic adoption of Le Corbusieran ideals of 'rationally' segregating places to live, places to work, places to shop, etc. -- zoning -- is most strongly entrenched. Vancouver began a concerted effort to try to reverse or at least dampen this decades ago, Calgary is quite late to this swing in urban planning fashion (and even here, is being strongly resisted by a powerful segment of interests and alignment).
posted by bumpkin at 10:44 PM on November 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


bumpkin: "Cities whose boundaries include suburban areas will look somewhat worse by comparison."

And indeed, Kansas City (MO) is a rather large portion of KC Metro, and OKC is even more unified.
posted by pwnguin at 11:56 PM on November 28, 2013


Hmm. Quality communities exist in rural environments too, you know. Driving is a little important out there.

Was just spending time with the family, where the kids are really being hit with new policy across California to ban them from driving. This is a much bigger deal for the rural side, but urban California has gotten its policy statewide.
posted by effugas at 4:50 AM on November 29, 2013


"I'd love to see similar stats for non-American cities as a comparator."

I can provide a PDF for Berlin.

Pages 14 and following show a breakdown. Foot traffic in yellow, bike in blue, public transport in yellow and 'individual motorized traffic' in red.

Lower right corner of page 15 has the breakdown for traffic purpose, and for commuting it's 40% car, 38% public transport, 14% bike and 8% foot traffic.
posted by ts;dr at 8:34 AM on November 29, 2013


DC and NY are at the top out of necessity, the traffic is otherwise so intolerable and parking so expensive. I would not say they are enlightened or special case, just congested. Many other cities have the luxury to spread out and form satellite cities, new broad beltways, or just don't have the congestion of a coast city built in the 19th century.
posted by stbalbach at 11:42 AM on November 29, 2013


Would be neat to see these overlaid with charts comparing population density.

I think that we can all agree that their performance here means that they should not be allowed to create any more charts.
posted by graphnerd at 10:37 PM on November 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


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